by Meredith Minter, class of 1984
"It's about time someone tried to revive chivalry and the days of the nights ... uh, the Knights of the Daze... uh, unlimited knights ... oh, you know what I mean." So began the Sundial account of Even Day, March 14, 1950. The theme was the Middle Ages, and the College had turned into Camelot. In Webb, home of Odd Freshmen, the date parlor was a dungeon; by contract, in seniors' West, a knight rode to battle, pencil in hand. Pencil? Yes, explained The Sundial. "No duels for him; they're not tough enough. He's taking G.R.E,'s for his lady love." In the post office, students requested the "Holy Mail."
1950's Even Day was typical. Unlike the Odds, who favored strange and vaguely sinister themes, the Evens dramatized gentler subjects. They followed the Green Bird of Happiness (1926), wandered the Land of the Moon (1927), explored Fairyland (1934) and the Enchanted Forest (1928). Literature was abidingly popular from Winnie the Pooh (1935) to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1941). Alice in Wonderland (1937, 1980) stood beside Shakespeare (1940,1948) and Gulliver's Travels (1955). Even television made an appearance in 1967's "Girl from E.V.E.N."
Even Day's decorations were always spectacular, even though, superstition had it, it always rained on March 14. Committees were formed to decorate each dorm. The front campus wasn't neglected either."To see the campus," an Odd once wrote, "with its masses of yellow and white chrysanthemums was to get the same sensation as may be obtained by gazing upon Ten Thousand Tons of Scrambled Eggs."
Evens themselves wore white on their day, and usually sported green ribbons around their necks. From each such ribbon, a small white button was suspended. In lieu of a parade, a long-standing arrangement with the Lynchburg Fire Department provided for an old-fashioned engine, in which Evens cruised up and down Rivermont. That was begun in 1924, when a committee chairman's fiance turned out to be a volunteer fireman.... his date asked him for Even Day ideas, and he lent her one of their trucks. An Even song grew up around it—"Oh, for the Life of a Fireman," which was a staple of stomps for many years.
As a counterpart to the Odds' Lantern Parade, the Evens held an annual resurrection party. Promptly at 10:30 on Even Day, the spirit of Buttons incarnate in the junior or senior class president would make his way up Crush Path from the Elysian Fields. After a rousing speech, the sheeted steed would depart, its medium returning in human form to lead a serenade. Sometimes fireworks were set off afterwards.
During World War II, the Evens gave themselves over completely to the war effort. For two years, Even Day went uncelebrated save for Buttons' return. Instead, decorations money went for War Bonds. In 1944, decorations were restored on a small scale—the theme, "All Out the Even Way." Odd dorms were decorated as Germany and Japan, Even ones as America and free France.
In 1956, history was outraged by "Gone with the Odds," a theme that turned Margaret Mitchell's book upside down. Scarlodd O'Hara, notorious Odd spy, was shown trying to seduce the high-minded—or maybe just naive—Ashley Post, and succeeding in seducing the more worldly Rhett Buttons. In the Even skit that evening, students found out more. Scarlodd was trying to get Rhett or Ashley to give her the Even Banner. At the last moment, when it seemed she must succeed, Rhett looked out the window and saw the avenging Etas approaching. Preferring life to love, he announced his decision to Scarlodd: "I'm selling out to the Etas while there's time," he said. "And that means Tara, too."
"But I must water my crops," Scarlodd pleaded, "Leave me my hydro-electric dam!" Of course, Rhett stood firm. His reply is self-evident.
Originally published in The Sundial on April 9, 1982 (Vol. 66, no. 22, p. 4)
This article is taken from "The Past Master," a column written by Meredith Minter Dixon, class of 1984, for the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College student newspaper, The Sundial. It is published here with her permission.
Ms. Dixon has written an invaluable multi-volume set, Maconiana: A Social History of Randolph-Macon Woman's College. For additional information, please visit her author's page on Amazon.
Please contact Mrs. Dixon (dixonm at pobox dot com) if you have comments or questions about her articles.